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Is an early closing time the answer?

Date: 11/12/2015

There is an old saying that nothing good happens after 2 a.m. and I’m inclined to believe that is true. The other conventional wisdom, though, that floats around in the press and social media is that downtown Springfield is unsafe.

I don’t agree with that one.

Here’s the next question that will be debated in the city: will moving Springfield’s closing time for establishments serving alcohol to 1 a.m. prevent possible gang on gang violence? Will a restoration of the city’s reputation ultimately benefit the businesses that will suffer a potential loss of revenue from the shift?

Here’s another question: can the city have an “entertainment district” without having bars that cater to young people?

My wife and I often go downtown to eat and we feel secure. But then we aren’t there at 2 a.m. at a bar with a bunch of 20-Somethings.

These events are taking place at bars with much younger demographics.

Yes, many places, if not all, have metal detectors, surveillance cameras, security staff and off-duty police officers. Consider this though: how do you control a situation in which two people inside a bar get into some sort of altercation and they settle it after the bar closes with a weapon that has been hidden in a car?

I’m not ready to jump on the bandwagon criticizing Mayor Domenic Sarno just yet. Whatever he does will either alienate some businesses or younger people or fan the fire among some media outlets and anonymous Internet trolls about the safety of Springfield.

I will offer two suggestions: pull the license for any bar that has a history of such incidences and stop issuing alcohol licenses to new bars in the downtown. Let’s encourage more restaurants in the near future.

The real problem is the proclivity of violence in American society. Too many people think they must resolve a difference not with a word or a punch but with a gun or knife. The origins of these attitudes go far deeper than the ability of a mayor or a police commissioner to solve them and we should acknowledge that.

Eastern versus western

I was away on Election Night and some people wondered how a political junkie such as myself could pull myself away from the climax of this long political season.

Amazingly enough, a week on Cape Cod with my wife was more appealing than speaking to candidates and frantically going from Springfield to Chicopee to Holyoke.

Sorry mayors.

My week at the Cape was not without politics though. We tended to watch TV at night to catch a weather forecast and that allowed me to see all of the presidential political commercials that are broadcast by the Boston stations apparently to help sway voters in New Hampshire, since the Massachusetts primary is not very important in the greater scheme of things.

So I saw PAC money at work promoting and denigrating various candidates. It’s just another difference between the east and the west of our little state. The folks in the east get to endure this stuff and we don’t.

I think we’re winning here.

Difference makers

I was saddened to hear of the closing of The White Rose, the bookstore that became much more than just a retail establishment on High Street in Holyoke. Betty Kaplowitz and Kristen Bachler created a place for community conversations and advocacy for Holyoke.

Their efforts will be missed, but I’m heartened to learn they are not leaving the Paper City.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.